About the animal welfare codes of practice

Animal welfare codes cover the main considerations to achieve a desired animal welfare outcome. For codes about a particular type of livestock, these include feed and water, housing, health, management practices, breeding and emergency slaughter.

Animal welfare codes generally contain a mix of general and prescriptive statements. They are not comprehensive manuals on how to care for animals. The codes do not contain detailed animal care information, such as diets, plans for building animal accommodation or animal health regimes.

If you live in Queensland and you intend to keep animals, especially ones that you have little knowledge or experience about, you should:

  • get detailed animal care information
  • be aware of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, Queensland's animal welfare legislation
  • read and comply with any relevant codes that are adopted or compulsory under the Act
  • read about your duty of care, and the relationship between adopted codes of practice under the Act and duty of care.

Benefits of animal welfare codes

Codes can go into much more detail about individual types of animals or animal use than animal welfare legislation can. Legislation would be hundreds of pages long if it covered all the material contained in codes.

Codes are also very useful for informing the general community, both in Australia and overseas, about agreed animal welfare standards in Australia.

Although each Australian state and territory has its own animal welfare legislation, many animal welfare codes are national, ensuring some consistency in animal welfare standards.

Development of the codes

All of the animal welfare codes associated with the Animal Care and Protection Act (Qld) have undergone an extensive period of consultation in their development.

The majority of these codes are nationally endorsed. Groups involved in developing these codes include state, territory and Australian government agencies, animal user groups and major animal welfare organisations. Many drafts are usually prepared over 2-3 years and wide consultation is conducted on each draft.

There are often different views on animal welfare issues. Most codes contain standards that are a compromise between optimising the welfare of animals and the interests of people whose livelihood depends on animals. This is why animal welfare codes generally set the minimum acceptable animal welfare standards.

Changes to the national codes

Many codes of practice are now being replaced by standards and guidelines documents.

The Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines: land transport of livestock (PDF, 1.2MB) is one example of a nationally endorsed document that has replaced a number of codes of practice relating to the transport of livestock.

Once adopted under legislation, the 'standards' are requirements that must be met under the Animal Care and Protection Act. The 'guidelines' are practices recommended to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes.

Future directions in animal welfare are detailed in the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy.

Learn more about animal welfare standards and guidelines.